A new study found that fathers in California and throughout the country who are behind on child support tend to spend less time with their children. The study was published in the February edition of “Journal of Marriage and Family.” It found that 30 percent of fathers owed on average $7,705 in back support. In addition to being less involved with their children, delinquent fathers have lower levels of education and work less than those who are not behind on payments.

Fathers who were behind on child support payments were also likely to not provide in-kind support such as food or toys to their children. The study’s authors believe that a father’s mental health and relationship with the child’s mother may play a role in whether or not the support is paid on time. However, failing to pay child support could have consequences for both the child and the parent who doesn’t make payments as required.

Parents behind on child support could face a variety of civil or criminal penalties, including the loss of professional or recreational licenses. In most cases, payments help feed, clothe and provide shelter for children. Research also indicates that children perform better in school when they have adequate financial support.

Making support payments on time may be essential to meeting the best interests of a child. Parents who are having trouble making payments or have not received payments may wish to talk with an attorney. It may be possible to modify support amounts to make it easier for a noncustodial parent to make payments in a timely manner. Custodial parents may wish to seek a lawyer in an effort to compel payment as ordered.